Preparing for the cross-country drive, Cree paused and took a few deep breaths as his little Honda began warming up. The ice on his windshield began to turn into droplets of water as the heated seats made everything quite toasty. Their driveway still looked neatly dry from his time salting it with Matthew. A little knot caught in his throat as Cree pulled forward and onto the cul-de-sac.
Cross-Country Day 1
Flipping on a podcast, Cree contemplated how long this might take. It’d been nearly six years since he’d had to drive from coast to coast. Even then, Interstate 10 went nearly the entire way and stayed in the warmer Southern parts of the Country. Taking Interstate 40 this time meant staying in the middle, and traveling through a lot of colder States.
“At least I get to see Nashville this time,” Cree thought out loud.
Around the time of his first pit stop, Cree glanced at a text exchange he’d had with his cousin the day before.
I’m so sorry. I meant to message you last night.
We aren’t going to be able to meet up. We’ve got a kiddo not feeling super great, crazy work schedules & we have close family battling Covid right now so our guard is up a bit.
But where are you staying?
Happy to shoot some ideas over.
I totally understand.
I’ll be at the [omitted]
That had been it… After a little research, Cree found the Opry Mills Mall and decided that sounded fun. So he shot a message to a friend from Tennessee and they agreed to meet up, as she’d already be in Nashville dress shopping.
Opry Mills Mall
I loved visiting Opry Mills! I got to check out the shops and enjoyed dinner with my amazing friend and her mom. My favorite shops were Off Broadway Shoes and Lindt. The staggering shoe selection left me excited about coming back! The delicious chocolates, made me miss my Crystal. All-in-all, I look forward to staying here again in the near future, maybe this time with my little family!
Cross-Country Day 2
Cree awoke with a start. He felt the need to move, so Cree took a quick shower, packed up, checked out, and took off. As he drove towards the freeway, he noticed a McDonald’s and grabbed a quick bite to eat. It was only just after six in the morning, but somehow he felt like he needed to drive.
Arkansas’s Icy Welcome
As Cree crossed the Mississippi into Arkansas, he noted the painfully obvious single lane. He pulled over to take a quick picture of the welcome center and noted the entire area covered in a thick layer of ice. Cree carefully exited his Insight and stepped as flat-footed as possible over to the sign.
“This isn’t right, it’s only 22°. The road crews should definitely have finished by now.”
After carefully climbing back into his car, Cree saw a family pull up beside him. He watched warily, making certain they made it safely to the restroom before backing out and resuming his trip.
Before he managed to cross the State line, Cree watches over a dozen accidents involving everything from compact cars to giant semis. Instead of the planned three hours, it took him a little over six. But, thankfully, he made it into Oklahoma safely.
Oklahoma In A Nutshell
While Cree had originally planned to visit his nephew and his lovely family, the late hour made adding the extra ninety minutes seem like a bad idea. So, Cree kept pushing, driving on the nicer, dry roads of Oklahoma until sunset. Then, he kept driving until finally reaching Amarillo, Texas.
Texas After Dark
By the time Cree reached Amarillo, darkness completely engulfed the State. The dark brought with it, temperatures around 14°F. Cree stopped to take a fun little selfie and decided that one was enough, even if it wasn’t that good. The next morning, he realized that not even the snow wanted to hang out in temperatures that low.
Cross-Country Day 3
Cree pulled away from the hotel feeling refreshed and ready for Arizona. Unfortunately, as the sun came up, Cree barely reached New Mexico. Additionally, the weather remained a resolute 16°F.
“This could be fun,” Cree mused, noting the still-dry roads.
New Mexico: Land of Enchantment
First, a semi-truck crash stopped traffic for about an hour and a half. Then, Cree decided to wash his car in Albuquerque. The poor Insight deserved a good cleaning, so Cree took it through a deluxe power wash. Only then did he head off into the beautiful mountains of Northern Arizona.
Arizona At Last
What more can be said? Cree watched the thermometer on his dashboard go from 21° to 60° over the course of about three hours as he made his way to the Phoenix Valley.
“Six years is far too long,” Cree said aloud as he finished his cross-country drive.